Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Orbital Sander vs. Random Orbit Sander: What's the difference?

A question we received from our last post (click here) was "what is the difference between an Orbital Sander and a Random Orbit Sander?" While they both sound very similar by name, they are very different.

Orbital Sander

This sander is also known as the finishing sander. It uses a fraction (¼,⅓, or ½) of a 9" x 11" sheet of regular sandpaper that is held by clamps. It's sanding area is shaped like a square which makes it perfect for getting into corners and against straight edges.
Bosch GSS20-40 ¼ Sheet Orbital Finishing Sander

They are not to be used on very rough surfaces because they aren't very aggressive, so the sandpaper might tear. Orbital sanders are easy to control and it's difficult to damage a surface using it, this is because 'over-sanding' with it is nearly impossible, unless you hold it in one place and intentionally try to. This sander is great for in-between coats of paint or finishing wood. One common complaint about using an orbital sander is the sanding marks that it leaves behind, this is because the sander rotates in tiny circles at a high speed and can cause swirly lines on the surface. It's best used with an extremely high grit sandpaper to create the smoothest and softest finish.

The orbital sander is usually cheaper than the random orbit sander at about $40 - $100.

Random Orbit Sander

Now, on to the random orbit sander. This sander uses two types of discs: the hook and loop disc or pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) disc. These discs are much easier to install than sandpaper as used by the orbital disc, they are also longer lasting. The random orbit sander is shaped in a circle, so it unfortunately does not fit in corners. This disadvantage is made up for by it's ability to sand down a lot more material than the orbital sander. That's right, this sander can be used on a rough surface and still do a great job. It's actually a prep sander (that can also be used for finishing with less pressure and finer grit discs), so it's ideal for taking off layers of rough material.
Makita B05030 5" Random Orbit Sander (see it here at Edmonton Fasteners & Tools Ltd.)
The random orbit sander vibrates less and has great dust collection, making it easier on the person using it.

It does not leave sanding marks on the wood because of it's random, multi-directional sanding pattern. The discs moves by spinning and also oscillating at the same time in unique directions.
Bosch ROS20VSK 5" Random Orbit Sander/Polisher (see it here at Edmonton Fasteners & Tools Ltd.)

The random orbital sander is more expensive at about $60 - $300+.

Thank you for stopping by the Edmonton Fasteners blog! We will have our next article up a week from now. Please check out our power tool sale, it is going on for four more days! If you have any questions regarding power tools, feel free to email us at sales@edmfast.com or give us a call! Our experts will gladly assist you. Have a great day!

P.S. Check out last weeks post: The Beginner's Guide to Power Tools by clicking here!

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